Hackaday recently announced the Best All-Around and Grand Prize Winner of the 2020 Hackaday Prize plus the winners in four specific challenges. This year’s top award, which include $50,000 cash for development, went to The BYTE, an open-source mouth-actuated input device developed for people with limited mobility. The prize-winning device met the challenge of a United Cerebral Palsy Los Angeles design brief for the competition, which asked for new variations of joysticks or trackballs that would be open source, affordable options to support greater independence for people with mobility challenges.
The BYTE has a pressure-sensitive bite sensor for input selection and a tongue sensor for directional navigation, replacing the functions of a conventional joystick. The user manipulates the device with tongue and teeth to control a computing device. According to the BYTE inventor, people with mobility limitations often retain control of their mouth. Depending on the pressure on the navigation pad and on the bite sensor, the user controls a computer screen cursor direction, scrolling, selection, and custom input.
The BYTE somewhat resembles a small computer mouse. The input device fits inside an adult-sized pacifier nipple so that it can be held in the mouth safely and comfortably. A single wire connects the BYTE to a circuit board that converts signals from the device via a USB plug. The BYTE prototype components include 3D printed parts that could be injection molded in quantity production to keep costs down.
In addition to United Cerebral Palsy Los Angles, the three other non-profit sponsors for the Hackaday 2020 competition included Conservation X Labs, CalEarth, and Field Ready. The BYTE’s Best All-Around Brand award was the top prize, but other Hackaday 2020 entries won Best in Category and Honorable Mention prizes of $10,000 and $3,000, respectively, with designs to answer challenges from each of the four non-profit partners. There was also a Best Wildcard award of $5,000 for the best among projects considered worthwhile but that didn’t match one of the four specific partner challenges.